The Good: Compact, Great basic functioning, Memory function.
The Bad: No display, Serious delay on layered/branching DVDs, Might not fit some colorschemes
The Basics: I give my mother's Sony DVP-PQ1 DVD player a spin when my Memorex dies and realize my search for a new DVD player might take some time!
Well, it finally happened. After a couple of years, my twitchy Memorex DVD player (reviewed here!) has died. As I prepare to go into the market for a new DVD player (probably a DVD/Blu Ray player), I have hooked my mother's Sony DVP-PQ1 DVD player into my television. Considering that my television is a Sony as well, a Sony Bravia 40" HDTV (reviewed here!) to be precise, I anticipated few difficulties with interfacing the two devices. Largely, I have been correct. Still, the DVP-PQ1 is not a flawless piece of equipment and I've had enough issues with it to know that this will not be the DVD player I purchase when I replace my Memorex.
Right off the bat, I will note that this DVD player is unlike most any other I have ever seen or used in that it does not have a tray that pops out to put DVDs on. Instead, the top is spring-loaded and a touch opens a "hatch" style top, more like a portable c.d. player than a DVD player. Having had to fish a DVD out of my dead Memorex using primitive methods, I can appreciate having easy physical access to the DVDs that is unencumbered by problems like the entire innards being burned out (i.e. if the power doesn't work on a DVD player, it is usually impossible to eject the disc, not so with the DVP-PQ1). Still, this slightly odd ease of access benefit is outweighed by several other problems that make this, ultimately, a below-average DVD player.
DVD players are pretty standard pieces of equipment these days and their prices have hit all new lows in the face of the emerging Blu Ray technology. At this point, there are few questions most people purchasing a DVD player will have outside: Will it interface well with my HDTV? and How long will it last? The simple answers right up front are: Yes, quite easily and yes, my mother has had her DVP-PQ1 for four years now and has been using it constantly without any functional problems or signs of its condition degrading. The Sony DVP-PQ1 is a simple player, not a digital recorder. It is also not a combo player, so it only plays DVDs or items on DVD quality or below discs (this unit plays compact discs as well, but not HD-DVDs or Blu Ray discs).
For most consumers, a DVD player need only play the DVDs. Even for slightly more sophisticated systems, the key to getting the most out of one's viewing experience is in the television and sound system. The DVD player need only play DVDs. And by those criteria, the Sony DVP-PQ1 is adequate. It is functional, easy to set up and if the Sony brand name still means anything, it will continue to endure for some time, as this one has for years.
The Sony DVP-PQ1 has a silver-gray case that fits the color scheme of most brands, so it fits my Sony sound and television system. This Sony looks good, is small, slightly taller than most DVD players and more squat. The top is a flip-top hatch that is slightly blue. It plays DVDs just fine. As well, I have used it to play CDs and I am pleased to say that it lives up to its promised ability to play that medium well enough. The player seems to have no trouble switching between mediums; when a disc is popped in, it recognizes the format of the disc and plays it accordingly.
The Sony DVP-PQ1, however, does not have any display. There are no LCDs, no front panel that clearly tells users where the disc is, if a disc is in, anything. To access anything resembling a display, one must use the remote, which is gray with little black lettering and not the easiest thing to read in the dark. The "display" for the DVD player, then, comes up on demand on the television only.
I love energy saving devices and this Sony is Energy Star compliant. Moreover, it encourages the user to conserve energy by shutting the system down through its memory function. When one hits "stop," the DVD player remembers the point the disc is at and it restarts there the next time one hits "play." Moreover, the memory function works even when the unit is powered down. So, if one hits stop, turns the player off and the next morning wants to pick up where they left off, the Sony DVP-PQ1 remembers the correct location to resume at! This seems to be pretty standard for Sony DVD players, but having lived without the function, I truly relish having it now. The Sony DVD player goes into a powersaving mode after it is paused for five minutes, causing a slight delay when the disc is resumed, but saves the consumer energy.
The remote is intuitive to use with very clear controls for loading the discs and navigating the menus, as long as the lights are on. The remote could use a "light" function to illuminate itself. As well, the Sony DVP-PQ1 comes with the batteries for the remote, which is nice. Arrow keys are large enough for those with failing eyes to see, but there is no lighting function on the remote, so if it gets lost in the dark, the viewer will need to turn a light on to find it. The Sony DVP-PQ1 seems to be able to pick up signals from the remote anywhere in the 180 degree field in front of the sensor, making it very flexible to use. One may have the DVD player in a location of their choice, as long as the pathway to the sensor is not obscured, the remote and DVD player seem to work well in combination, even from twenty-five feet away.
Lately, I've started to play with the DVD player's advanced functions a bit and in doing that, I have played around with the Surround Sound feature and my sound system responds to the function pretty well. My sound system - when I connected it to my system for testing - utilized the Surround Sound function without difficulty.
Finally, when using the player to play DVDs that are layered for length or have a branching function - like putting deleted scenes back into the body of X-Men or The X-Files, I have noticed significant delay. The lag is usually about two seconds, but I have noticed up to five seconds of delay on some films I've used for test purposes! Having seen these functions work on higher end models, it is disappointing to downgrade to one that has to think about what it is doing for a few seconds.
As for connecting the unit, the Sony DVP-PQ1 is simple to connect. The DVD player comes with the standard three-in-one cord that hooks color-coded jacks from the DVD player to the television. One need only be able to match yellow to yellow for the video input and output and the red to red and white to white for the two sides of the audio system. Everything is color coded and if one makes those connections and plugs the DVD player in, it is ready to go, no additional effort or work necessary.
Outside the significant delay on layered works neither my mother or I have ever noticed any problems with the operation of the player. Still, I've discovered how much I like having a display available when I want it and not something I have to do anything about. For that reason, I'm looking for something better than the DVP-PQ1 and I'd recommend the same for others looking for a new DVD player.
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Sanyo 19” HD-TV
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© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.